Bock’s Score: Net-Jerk


Dysfunction lives in Brooklyn, where the Nets assembled a can’t-miss cast of NBA superstars and watched it consume poor Steve Nash, the designated coach.

Nash’s two-plus seasons in charge of the Nets Funhouse ended last week when he was dismissed, hopefully with his sanity in place. That was no small achievement given the circumstances he faced.

When the Nets imported Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, things looked great. Almost immediately, they ordered perfectly fine coach Kenny Atkinson dismissed and replaced by Nash, a Hall of Fame point guard who never had coached anywhere else. This would allow Durant and Irving to run the show.

Shortly afterwards, the Funhouse added James Harden, another star, to their can’t miss lineup. Injuries limited Irving early and Durant late so Nash never had a full deck.

Then along came COVID and Irving’s refusal to take the vaccine which kept him sidelined from home games. This complicated the lineup and made things even more confusing when he showed up on the Funhouse bench wearing a mask to protect himself from bad germs.

Harden grew tired of this routine and requested a trade. The Funhouse found a place for him in Philadelphia and acquired Ben Simmons in the deal. Simmons, it turns out, had troubles of his own and never played a minute in Brooklyn last season.

So, from three superstars, Nash had one left at home and 1 ½ left on the road, where Irving was permitted to play. Not to worry. He took the Funhouse into the playoffs and there would be no restrictions on Irving’s play in Brooklyn this season. Simmons had recuperated and was available. Things would be just peachy.

Except for one problem. Durant decided he didn’t like Nash anymore and dropped a summertime ultimatum. It’s me or him, he declared. Then, talked down from the ledge, he decided to stay with Nash as coach.

Then Irving, a well-known social critic, who previously declared the earth was flat and supported a conspiracy theory about a totalitarian shadow government, posted a link to an antisemitic film and doubled down on his endorsement

This caused some consternation within the team and the league and the Funhouse’s solution was to announce that Irving would no longer speak to the media, those bad guys who cause all the trouble. Then they made sure of that by suspending him for a minimum of five games. He followed that with a half-hearted apology and an offer of a $500,000 contribution to the Anti-Defamation League, which told him to keep the money.

Now, with Nash dropping through the escape hatch, the team needs a new coach and the top candidate appeared to be Ime Udoka, who was suspended for the season by the Boston Celtics for an inappropriate relationship with a team staffer.

Sounds like perfect choice for the Funhouse.


About the Author

Hal Bock

Hal Bock is a contributor with NY Sports Day. He has covered sports for 40 years at The Associated Press including 30 World Series, 30 Super Bowls and 11 Olympics. He is the author of 14 books including most recently The Last Chicago Cubs Dynasty and Banned Baseball's Blacklist of All-Stars and Also-Rans. He has written scores of magazine articles and served as Journalist In Residence at Long Island University's Brooklyn campus where he also served on the selection committee for the George Polk Awards.

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